Wilder, where is that?
Many times when traveling down the Mountain out of our little hidden community, people ask us where we are from. We say Wilder. In Tennessee when you are out and about people are always interested in where you are from. Most people ask where is that?. Others offer us a strange look because Wilder has a renegade stigma to many who know of Wilder and it's history. Not surprising that many Tennesseans have never heard of Wilder because it is off a remote highway and up into the mountain roads. If you blink you will miss the tiny sign on route 85 with all the bullet holes in it that says Wilder. Truth be told we drove right past it our first time out. Once upon a time, if you wanted any power in the state you better have the support of Wilder behind you. At one time it was a very large and profitable community with it's roots in Coal Mining. For 30 years it was highly functional until the early 1930's when a Union Strike left the leader of the United Mine Workers shot dead in front of the General Store. After that mining continued in different capacities, but never fully recovered. By the 1960's mining had stopped for good. Sixty years later all that is left at the base of Wilder is the remains of what used to be one of Tennessee's most influential communities and Anthony. Why is Anthony so important to the Wilder Community? Because he has the answers to Where or What is Wilder, TN. His Dad was born in 1890 and he was born in 1945. Over the course of his Dad's and his lifetimes, the Wilder Mines were created and ended. He came to our hike with his book in hand, with the written history and pictures of Old Wilder. His pages were flagged with important facts. His heart was full of pride as he told the stories he remembered and those passed down by his Dad. A family that was built on this Coal Mining town. He wears a confederate coat and hat as he tells his stories. Making sure we all know his attire is not a political statement, but rather a sense of pride and love for history, his history... Our History. I am thankful to have met Anthony who has deep Faith and generosity of spirit to share what he knows to be true of Wilder. Not only on this 5 hour hike, but also on a back road UTV adventure this past June. Now, although many people think Wilder is a scary scandalous place out in the middle of nowhere, others have told me that it is the best kept secret in Tennessee. Which is true? I will never tell.... 😉